Sunday looked cloudy. I asked my my son Armaghan about what he wanted to do for the day. He replied quickly with some ideas to go out and have fun. His ideas was primarily to go to some park for play and then to some mountain to enjoy some more of scenic beauty. Yup, my kids are into scenic beauty just like my wife and myself.
After looking at the forecast, I knew we did not have much time left before the rain. I wanted to think of some place that we could still visit and have enough time for some family fun and my pictures. Whenever we think about visiting places in limited time, first thing that comes to mind is Snoqualmie Falls. Roughly half an hour away, this is a beauty that we have enjoyed so many times. Still, it gives us something new every time.
Here is one image from June this year. See all the green? You will see the "new" I am talking about down in the post :)
Ok, one down. What else we can do in few hours left? And then I thought about Gold creek pond. Gold creek pond is such an amazing place with really nice kids friends trail and an open picnic area. I have been to the pond multiple times but always at night. Actually that is the place where I took my most favorite Aurora photo this year.
Alright, so with pond and falls in mind, we left from home around 1:30 PM. As expected, it took us a little over an hour to get to the Gold Creek Pond. While going, we took WA 202, and then I-90 from Fall City.
All the roads still have a lot of fall color. This year has brought us a long summer and a delayed fall. I think fall is also getting longer and I don't really see any signs of winter yet. I mean I know that there has been a little bit of snow on Rainier and Adams but is it cold? Not really. On our way we did not see any signs of winter, just fall. All above the mountains as well.
Taking exit 54, we were close to the pond and I prepared myself for those really bad potholes on the forest road leading to pond. But to my surprise, those were gone. Completely gone. Road was still gravel but I did not see any of those potholes anymore. Maybe just 1 or 2 small ones. Whoever fixed it, good for us visitors. I wonder why they left it as it is whole summer though. I have been there several times between June and mid August. It was actually getting worse. Maybe it got to a point where the only option was to fix it?
Anyways, as we turned into paved parking, we had welcoming fall colors on both sides again. There were already several cars parked. I was actually not expecting this much crowd on a potentially rainy day. My son recognized the place and decided to be our tour guide this time, especially because it was day time. He was so enthusiastic that he even left his soccer ball in the car. Yup, we had planned to kick it around in open picnic area. Based on how much crowd I was expecting after seeing all those cars, I decided not to remind him of soccer ball at that moment.
On the fork, we decided to go left and go to picnic area directly. Even though trail is really beautiful and kids friendly, it is still a bit too much for my 3 years old. Also, I wanted more time for us in picnic area so that we could leave early and then go to falls.
As we got to picnic area, were were all mesmerized. It was a cloudy day and very windy. But I think overcast made it even more beautiful. My 3 year old, Ghilman, ran for the water and I had to run after him to slow him down. Water there is so clear that one night I had stepped in to knee high water just because I could really see rocks and dirt. I am sure he would have stopped, as it was daylight, but why risk it? In no time, kids were running and jumping around.
Mostly, water at the pond is really calm. You can see the pristine reflections of mountains and trees across the pond. That day, however, due to wind there were so many ripples. I could not take that perfect mirror reflection shot. I had already left most of my equipment at home and just had my 16-35mm with a hoya circ-pl on my D750. Since I had my ND filters left at home as well, I decided to ditch the tripod after first few failed attempts of taking any good long exposures. As the kids enjoyed themselves, throwing rocks in water and jumping from picnic tables, I waited for moments when water became a little bit calm.
I was able to take some good pictures. Here is the one that shows most of open landscape. You can also see some fall colors among all those green trees.
At least I had my circular polarizer with me to cut some of that nasty glare off of water. Still there isn't too much to expect on a bright, yet gray, afternoon. I kept trying some random perspectives before giving up.
I forgot to mention that there were actually very few people in the picnic area. Not without much delay, Armaghan remembered that he has forgotten his soccer ball in the car. So now he wants his soccer ball and he wants to play. He goes and gets the ball? What do you expect from a 7 years old? As usual, Dad's to the rescue. I was already done with pictures so I decided to just go back to parking area and put my camera and tripod back in car while bringing him his soccer ball. I strolled back to parking. As slow as I could, absorbing all the beauty and calm surrounding me. I really love this place.
So I put my gear back and pick his ball and start walking back to pond. Guess what? They are already on the way back and I can see him marching towards me with a BIG smile. Ok baba let's go, he says. I don't know the magic words mom used but it worked and I was happy. I already wanted to go to falls now. I knew it was about to rain.
Did you take a picture of those trees? My wife asked and I looked again to those trees on both sides of parking entrance. Oh man, I really want to click those. I am glad that I did.
And then we were on our way back to home, with one more stop to make on the way. The ever beautiful Snoqualmie Falls. Few drops on my windscreen told me that clouds wont be able to hold it much longer. We took the exit to North bend from I90 and then followed straight to 202 to the falls. Parked and got to view point. I mounted my tripod as usual and then I remembered that I dont have my ND filters with me today. Darn!
OK, lets see how it looks really on U1. U1 is my custom settings mode that I use mostly for landscapes if I am not shooting fully manual. It is basically aperture priority with slightly bumped up saturation and sharpness to get rich colors. Anyways, I took my first shot at U1 and it looked amazing. Skies still didn't have much to offer. Just a gray patch, kinda over exposed. But colors surrounding the landscapes around falls were beautiful.
Now you can contrast this look with the look from June that I shared earlier.
OK, even though I liked the shot, I still wanted my silky smooth waterfall. Maybe with this much overcast, I can do some long exposures? Lets try it. It was already raining, making everything extra tricky. I took 1 second long exposures but I had to go all the way to f/22 aperture. Means, all the droplets on my lens would be SUPER visible. I kept trying and kept cleaning my lens. Only these 2 exposures, from each viewpoint, were a bit clean.
It was raining hard at this point and we had to run to the car. Ont he way back, we took WA 203 (Fall City - Carnation road). It was raining so hard and I could not stop. But that whole road had amazing fall colors and we kept enjoying the scenic beauty all the way to home.